[Update: Another Reader Success Story!] Informal DOT Complaint Not Helping? A DansDeals Reader Finally Got A Flight Refund After Filing A Formal DOT Complaint

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Update: After reading about the formal complaint process here, DansDeals reader Meir Silverman filed a complaint against Azerbaijan on September 9th for refusing a refund. Here is the Word document of his complaint.

Azerbaijan initially opposed his formal complaint before deciding to issue a refund. They asked the DoT today to dismiss the complaint based on providing Meir a cash refund.

Meir writes to me that the refund was wired into his account last week. He had over 2 dozen tickets with various airlines that were cancelled, but he was able to get them all refunded one way or another, besides for the Azerbaijan ticket.

Have you tried filing a formal DOT complaint to get a refund?

Originally posted on 9/8:

When things go wrong with the airlines I’ve turned to the DoT to complain and have had good results. They have a convenient online complaint form here to file an informal complaint.

The DOT also reaffirmed that COVID-19 is not a valid reason for airlines to refuse refunds on cancelled flights and that policy changes made after a ticket purchase are a deceptive practice. US airlines like JetBlue and United quickly came in line. Some airlines like Air Canada and El Al refused. And then came the Canada Transportation Agency after our Air Canada post…

So what do you do when an airline refuses to comply with an informal DOT dispute? You can file a chargeback or take an airline to small claims court.

Or you can file a formal DOT dispute.

You’ll want to be careful though, just look at the resources American used against a claimant who filed a formal DOT complaint!

DansDeals reader Meir Libersohn had a dispute with Avianca for a ticket booked on CheapOAir when his flight was cancelled. He had no luck getting a refund after contacting Avianca and CheapOAir in March.

He filed an informal DOT complaint in May, but Avianca still refused to provide a refund.

So he filed a formal DOT complaint on July 2nd. All formal complaints are posted on Regulations.gov and his complaint can be seen here, along with download links for his complaint in Word and PDF formats.

Just 1 week later, Avianca gave Meir his refund in full and asked him to drop his formal complaint against the airline. He did so and Avianca asked the DOT to dismiss the case based on the withdrawal of the complaint.

His format may not be as professional as most that I’ve seen, but it did the trick and you can edit it to make it work for you. If you have hit a wall after filing an informal DOT complaint and a credit card chargeback, then go ahead and file a formal complaint of your own.

Ben Edelman writes about the formal DOT complaint process, and it’s an excellent resource to read about what to do. You can use his formal complaint template here. He advises to include exhibits at the end to support your case, including screenshots, tickets, and correspondence with customer relations. Bear in mind that anything you include will be made public, but Ben also includes information on making a redacted file if needed. He also says to leave the placeholder after the year blank, as that will get assigned by the DOT.

Meir says that he filed his complaint here and sent a copy of his complaint to Blane A. Workie, Assistant General Counsel, OST/DOI at blane.workie@ost.dot.gov and copied Kimberly Graber, Esq. kimberly.graber@dot.gov, Robert Gorman, Esq. robert.gorman@dot.gov, Juanita Falconi Linares juanita.falconi@avianca.com, and Roberto Kriete roberto.kriete@avianca.com. Of course if you’re complaining about another airline you’ll want to send a copy to their executives.

Have you ever filed a formal DOT complaint? If you do file, let us know what happens!

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56 Comments On "[Update: Another Reader Success Story!] Informal DOT Complaint Not Helping? A DansDeals Reader Finally Got A Flight Refund After Filing A Formal DOT Complaint"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


whats wrong with the format? looks pretty lawyer-like to me


Hey Dan, Copa canceled my miles in June, in the middle of a pandemic when most borders were closed and even Copa was shut down. Is there any point in filing a DOT complaint?


How about getting Qantas to refund all the Thank You points that were transferred there with redemptions on El Al in mind. Would love to get them back and switch them to Turkish. Any chance this is something DOT can help?


I haven’t received my miles or cash back from a canceled flight on Delta four months ago. I might have to do this.


Filed complaint against ELAL and got a call from an ELAL Rep within 2 weeks to discuss the pending refund


Formal or informal ?


What’s the benefit to withdrawing these complaints? Presumably, having them up there can help others.


been months and still no resolve on a complaint filed against Air Tahiti Nui.


There will be a complaint against the DOT for failure to enforce the DOT law!


Dan, please help direct me with what to do for refunds with Azerbaijan Airlines, they’re impossible to reach and keep on delaying their “opening time” every month.


Can i file a complaint against aeroflot?


Did you know American will not let you use one of its transportation vouchers with the travel credit from an AA ticket? Both are supposed to be valid currency on any AA flight but it will not let you combine them. You must choose one and pay the difference, if any, in cash. Can the DOT do anything?

Ed Travel

What about complaining for European airlines in Europe and get an answer? I have a couple of thousands of tickets stuck there that were cancelled and they want to give me a “voucher” but I don’t want one..


Here is a list of the country specific agencies. https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/2004_261_national_enforcement_bodies.pdf
Remember that if the flight originates or connects through the US, you can file a complaint with the DOT. This is a good article on what to do.


I tried for 3 months to get a refund from AMEX Travel and Austrian Airlines for my Covid cancelled flights from the US to South Africa. In June, I filed a formal complaint with the DOT. In addition, I filed a formal complaint with the EU agency for passenger rights (DOT equivalent) regarding a possible infringement of the Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004.

Within 2 weeks of providing my receipt and documentation, I received notification from Austrian Airlines of my full refund. Three days later, my American Express card was credited.


is there a dot style type of complaint with hilton they shut my honors account down with over a million points and aspire and surpass cards linked to them is there any one to reach? or is there anyone at hilton to fess up to


Hi Dan,
I used 41k Chase UR points to book 6 tickets on American (return from Orlando Pesach). American cancelled the flight and put us on a new flight without notifying us. It was impossible to reach Chase UR travel dept. so I contacted American to tell them we couldn’t use the new flight. They issued a flight credit to be used only by each specific passenger within a year. (Not interested!) When I contacted Chase they said that since I was in touch with American they cannot refund my points! Do I have any recourse?


Anyone tried this for AirCanada refund for flight cancellations?


Already tried informal and chargeback against Air Canada and nothing.


Hey Dan,

I booked 2 Elal round trip tickets from Tlv to Jfk with chase points, and Chase refuses to give me my money or the points back. What do i do?

Elal was the one that canceled my flight back in MARCH


i filed complaint in April against elal i paid for my tickets using part csr points and charging the rest on csr. Elal was refusing to give refund. and i got answered from DOT you refund is on its way 2 months later!


will this work to get money back from an air canada flight


On a side note, a few weeks ago I took a flight EWR-DEN was supposed to be on a new 767 first class. I paid $442.

A night before the flight they switched it to an old 737. I made a chargeback for $300 and didn’t hear back from United (Yet)


what about if Alitalia cancelled my flight after i transfered 160k amex points… amex says alitalia wont allow refunds. I have escalated and still no help, I know its the risk “its in our terms.” I literally hucaed a million times… Any ideas?


Is there anything to do if you booked a flight and after booking the Destination country put a ban on all non citizens to enter that country. So far the flight is on time but since there is a ban I can’t go on the flight. Flight is in a few days.
Any suggestions?


What did the airline tell you? I would assume that you will be denied boarding.


I will. the question is what my options just to get a voucher or there is any way to get a refund for this kind of situation


Lufthansa air. If anybody have some experience I appreciate it thanks!

Ed Travel

What about for the European flights like this. It would be also very useful as I have 4 flights that they won’t refund me


Finally got my refund to chase points, filed DOT after months of trying with airline (Air Tahiti)! Worth the wait now I got miles redeposited and can use towards bills! Thank you so much!


Strange…i just got refunded for my return portion on Qatar Airways. It was booked through Chase travel using points. Got points back for the return segment. I had opted for refund back in May 2020


I got my full refund of my Air Serbia tickets from Trip.com last month for a May ticket.


We bought tickets on Virgin Atlantic based on a dans deal last August for pesach from Tel Aviv to NY thru Priceline. When Virgin Atlantic cancelled the flights I asked for a refund. The airline said the tickets were not booked thru them and Priceline said the carrier wasn’t refunding flights.

After seeing another post on dans deals that said to file a complaint, I filed with the DOT, my credit card in addition to the complaints already with Priceline and the airline

I was willing to take a voucher for future travel but that wasn’t offered

Just got my refund this week.

Thanks dans deals. I’m a Dan Fan


I want to make a public dot complaint that you spoke about in your previous posts however I am concerned about my kvetching staying publicized forever is there a way to have the dot remove it from public view after it gets resolved ? thank you


Got a full refund to my card for Air Serbia ticket after requesting for it from Trip.com and SkyScanner (mentioning the DOT policy, as well as filing a DOT complaint), who were both very responsive.